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Simple Sides: Potato & Plum Grill Pouch

Image of Potato & Plum Grill Pouch
Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where can adult attention might be especially needed.
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Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience and confidence in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a” week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach a child basic culinary skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” – Julia Child.

After cooking up July’s featured dish using ingredients from Melissa’s Grilling Basket there were plenty of fresh goodies left to continue with another open flame recipe idea for this month. In fact, the kids can have a hand in preparing this dish without getting anywhere near the fire. There was a substantial amount of very tiny Dutch Yellow® Potatoes scattered throughout the basket, so a foil packet seemed the perfect solution since they are small enough to fall through some grill grates. The pouch also creates an opportunity to add a few interesting supporting ingredients designed to add flavor as well as hold the culinary interest of young minds. (If only out of curiosity, anticipating how this odd combo of potatoes and plums will turn out when the pouch is opened.)
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Though Red Plums/Plum Bites were not in the basket, August brings an abundance of this popular summer fruit peaking in sweet, juicy flavor. Potatoes and plums? Not that farfetched of an idea. Chinese PLUM SAUCE has a few simple ingredients: plums, sugar, vinegar, salt, ginger and garlic. One option would be to add a few more steps to the recipe by cooking up a batch of this tasty sauce and then drizzling it over the grilled potatoes in a traditional plating. But where’s the fun or culinary anticipation in that? Instead, add a little mystery to the pouch by including all the ingredients for a plum sauce in sort of a deconstructed form, so to speak. The ingredients will meld together in the pouch during the grilling process creating the essence of plum sauce cooked through and through each potato. Depending on the number of plums used, the overall flavor profile of this dish can lean towards being plum-dominant or more subtle with just a hint of a plum’s sweet aftertaste.

And, speaking of sweetness, note that “sugar” appears in the text when referencing the traditional ingredients in a Chinese Plum Sauce, though it is missing from the recipe below by design. Centuries of tradition included, this or any fruit-based sauce needs no external sweetener! Ma Nature provides natural sugars in all her fruits; adding processed sugar turns the fruit and its flavor into a sugar-coated something else, certainly not a healthy or necessary combination. Celebrate the natural sugars in fresh fruit that science can measure now in brix, to a greater or lesser degree. Option 2: keep training your kids that fruit needs a spoonful of processed sugar to be enjoyed. It’s a slippery slope also tracked by stats; refined sugars increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are all linked to a higher likelihood of depression, dementia, liver disease, and certain types of cancers. Sugar is America’s drug of choice.

A few tips about this recipe: each packet will serve two; if you have multiple kids involved, then each can make his or her own packet. Always use heavy-duty aluminum foil; a double-wrap of foil is even better just to give the potatoes a little extra protection from the flame. For the griller, move the packet(s) around on the grill alternating in and out of the “hot spots” in the fire to avoid burning the bottom. The packets will retain heat for some time, so opening each is probably also best left to an adult. Happy pluming. Happy grilling!

Potato & Plum Grill Pouch
2 servings per pouch
Image of ingredients for Potato & Plum Grill Pouch

For the potatoes:
1 lb. Peewee Dutch Yellow® Potatoes
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

For the plums:
4 Red plums/Plum Bites, rough chopped
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

What the kids can do:
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Toss the whole Peewee Dutch Yellow® Potatoes with the parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, then transfer to a large foil sheet.
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Combine the chopped plums, red onion, garlic, ginger and vinegar in a mixing bowl until thoroughly blended.
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Pour the plum mixture over the potatoes, fold the edges of the foil over to make a packet, and seal tight. Puncture the top of the packet with a few holes for steam to escape. Handoff to the supervising adult for grilling.

What the supervising adult should do:
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Grill each packet for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on heat of fire, until the potatoes are fork tender.
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Sprinkle with lemon juice just before plating. Serve with a grilled protein of choice.
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